Nigeria has gone far beyond conducting tests of drug anti-counterfeiting technology from Sproxil with Merck, as reported incorrectly last week. Sproxil launched its service in February in Nigeria, according to an Indian press report. The drug giant pays to have Sproxil's package labels put on its diabetes drug.
In the program, which has the support of Nigerian drug officials, drug takers use a crowdsourcing technique to ferret out the fakes. Consumers scratch a sticker on the drug package and then send a text message containing the security code revealed to a toll-free number. The ID code is forwarded to a server for verification, and the drug company feeds data to government officials, who pursue the counterfeiters.
Ghana-born Ashifi Gogo, Sproxil's founder, says the anti-counterfeiting technology company has received orders for four million labels for just one of Merck's product lines.
The order was preceded by a 100-day pilot that ran through April. In the pilot, about 735,000 Merck drug packs, distributed by Nigerian company Biofem, were checked. The pilot ran at 125 pharmacies in three Nigerian cities. Sproxil's system handled some 23,000 text messages from 6,800 users with just two recorded errors. And in May, the system identified counterfeiting activity in the field, Sproxil says.